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73 of 80 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The original "Blade"?
I know it sounds like a bunch of cliches but this book gripped me so much I couldn't put it down and read it in just a few hours. A sometimes bleak study of the human condition it is also engrossing, thought-provoking and moving. It is also one of the few "horror" novels out of hundreds I have read that have genuinely scared me.
Basically it is the story of Robert...
Published on 5 Oct 2002 by David Caton

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Its okay
I had been looking to reading this for a long time and was a little disappointed- maybe because the twist is so well known
Published 16 months ago by chris grant


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73 of 80 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The original "Blade"?, 5 Oct 2002
By 
David Caton (Westcliff on Sea, Essex England) - See all my reviews
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I know it sounds like a bunch of cliches but this book gripped me so much I couldn't put it down and read it in just a few hours. A sometimes bleak study of the human condition it is also engrossing, thought-provoking and moving. It is also one of the few "horror" novels out of hundreds I have read that have genuinely scared me.
Basically it is the story of Robert Neville, the lone survivor of a plague that sends its victims into a coma, followed eventually by death and vampirism. By day Neville hunts sleeping plague victims and vampires and disposes of them in the traditional manner. By night he locks himself away while hordes of vampires attack his well-defended house. Eventually he seeks scientific explanations for the causes of vampirism and tries to find a cure. In that respect I think the story must have been an influence on the Blade comics and movies (just don't expect hi-tech weapons, martial arts and cool shades!!).
As Neville becomes more resigned to his situation, and gradually gets used to the nightly attacks of vampires on his well-defended house, so does the reader. The vampires become almost incidental and the writing focusses more on Neville's thoughts and preoccupations. Until, that is, Neville loses track of time and gets caught outside, miles from home at nightfall. It is a testament to Matheson's writing that at this point the thought of being in Neville's position and having to run the gauntlet of vampires waiting for him outside his only safe haven is truly terrifying!
The pseudo-scientific explanations for the characteristics of vampirism seem a little silly, especially the "body glue", but these are really incidental to the story, as is the futuristic 1970's setting, and you shouldn't let these put you off.
I would recommend this book to anyone.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Its all about the people, 22 Oct 2006
By 
C. Oflaherty "llywco" (UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
I bought this because it was number two in the masterworks series, which has been a goldmine of excellent science fiction: Gateway, Forever War etc.

I was a little dubious about reading a vampire book. I went through a bit of a phase as a teenager, and it had all been a bit cheesy and romanticised, more about the costumes than horror. I also read Dracula many years ago and was decidedly underwhelmed. This, was however, unexpectedly excellent.

Reading this novel is a little like being locked inside the main characters small shuttered house, with occasional forays into the sunlit world outside. This is because at first the only knowledge of the world you have is through his fear, and his hatred of the vampires; but gradually this is added to by his recollections of the past, of his realisations about the world he is now living in. This mirroring between the reader's knowledge and the main character's world is an excellent method of creating empathy with a character with whom you are not always meant to agree, but are at least expected to comprehend his choices.

The vampires of this world are not a mythical, and mysterious creation, but a scientific fact and undeniable truth in John Neville's world. This makes them both more frightening and more sympathetic, because regardless of their present situation and their needs they were once people. The question the book ultimately poses is what is it that makes us human?
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Warrior of the wasteland, 19 May 2009
I hadn't heard of Richard Matheson's post-apocalyptic novella until the film adaptation came out. After seeing that somewhat messy movie, I was inspired to seek out the source novel. Now, I think it's always better to watch a film version of a novel first, as it's usually less frustrating; the book is dark, eerie and ultimately harrowing, and I was gripped by Matheson's prose and couldn't put it down until I'd finished it. I would definitely recommend this novella to Sci-Fi/Fantasy fans and to those who simply like to read quality fiction. This edition is a reasonable price on here too.
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28 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A dark brooding paranoid classic, 30 July 2002
By 
Lendrick (London) - See all my reviews
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It is hard to think or a darker book - Richard Neville is the last man alive the rest of the population turned into vampires by a mysterious bug. By day he scavanges the deserted city and seeks out sleeping vampires to kill, while at night he sits in his fortified house listening to the vampires howl for his blood.
But this isn't just a excuse for horror, it a novel about the nature of man which will make you think as well as scaring you.
Written in 1954 this is a timeless classic - I wonder if Matheson now regrets the then so futuristic 1970s setting - it is the only thing that dates the book. An influence on so many others, Steven King and George Romero for a start. This should be on any list of great novels of the 20th century.
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Something to Sink Your teeth Into, 27 Sep 2006
By 
Steven Moses - See all my reviews
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The Millenennium SF series is a bit of mixed bag of so called 'classic' and seminal sci-fi of the 20th century. 'I Am Legend' rightly deserves it's place in that list but not necessarily as a sci-fi novel. But it's a bit of a curate's egg. In fact it's not even a horror novel per se. There's a blend of sci-fi, post-apocalyptical musings ( more so in the movie based loosely on the book), some horror of course. But this novella is more a psychological examination of what it's like to be the last man alive. Matheson is an expert at leading us into the mind of a man without the companionship of his fellows. I won't spoil the plot as there are some brilliant and unexpected twists but the chapters concerned with Neville's discovery of a dog, company he has craved for for three years, is stunning and I defy anyone not to be moved to tears. I love the film, which is why I bought the book initially, but after reading it I'm afraid Heston et al missed out on a better adaptation. Near perfect.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of my favourite books!, 26 Feb 2001
By A Customer
Beat this for a premise! It is the future. The human race as we know it no longer exists. Every man, woman and child has become a vampire, comatose and in hiding from the sun by day, out en masse and in search of blood by night. However, incredibly, one individual has survived - Robert Neville, the last man alive on earth. During the hours of daylight, Neville stalks what is left of his native Los Angeles, culling as many of the vampires as he can. As darkness arrives he hurries back home, locks himself inside his fortress of a house and prepares for another night of vampires gathering outside his abode, screaming at him to come out. Now that's what I call imagination!
Richard Matheson books are somewhat hard to get hold of in libraries and bookshops these days (thank heavens for online shopping!). I can only assume it is because his (novel) output isn't particularly prolific - eight novels in just under fifty years. It is a pity because it may mean that Matheson may not get the vast (modern) audience that his writing deserves.
So what makes him so good? First of all, his style of writing is crisp and economical. This is particularly evident here. Paragraphs are short, the story moves quickly. At no stage does the reader feel that the story is becoming bogged down with unnecessary descriptive sidetracks.
Secondly, no writer seems to be better at summarising the human condition. It should be impossible for the reader realistically to empathise with what Neville goes through and yet we genuinely seem to share his mental turmoil.
Thirdly - and this is what I particularly like - you often start a chapter thinking you know which way the narrative is heading and then Matheson will take the story off in a direction you never expected. The constant sudden shifts in plot really enhance the excitement.
I'd call this an 'intelligent' horror novel. It has often been classed as a science fiction book of course. Matheson treats the subject with plenty of humour but practically no irony. He has Neville scientifically approach all the elements of the vampire myth (fear of crosses, aversion to garlic, craving for blood) to find the best way to fight his adversaries.
It is not perfect. To the layman (such as me!), some of the biological discourse about blood cells and the immune system comes across as rather dry. But, despite the horrific subject matter, I can't recall genuinely enjoying a book as much since I read Wilbur Smith's 'River God' a couple of years ago. I can't recommend this highly enough!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Loneliness, desperation, and vampires., 7 Nov 2007
By 
@GeekZilla9000 "I am completely operational a... (Doncaster, Yorkshire, UK.) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This is rightly regarded as a SF Classic. I was introduced to this book through my love of John Wyndham and his dystopian fiction. There are obvious parallels between I Am Legend and Wyndham's Day of the Triffids. The horror in I Am Legend is certainly more pronounced though.

The story is an incredible exploration of humanity, with Robert Neville, the book's anti-hero fighting for his life against the vampires. He is to his knowledge the last man on earth, with the rest of humanity infected with a bacterium which has resulted in them having vampiristic tendencies. They stake out his house at night, and retreat during daylight.

Part of Matheson's genius is his re-writing of the Vampire legend. He makes the vampires believable by offering explanations to the usual vampire stereotypes (not too keen on crucifixes or garlic, are to be killed with a steak in the heart, photophobia, etc) and this adds a chilling believability to the novel as it is removed from pure fantasy or the super-natural. Neville systematically runs through the list of traditional vampire deterrents to see if they work, and to try and figure out why.

Neville comes across as an ordinary man, he suffers from periods of depression (as you would with vampires baying for blood at nightfall), he mourns his wife and daughter, his killing of the vampires sickens him, but after years it becomes a monotonous daily occurrence and is blurred by his alcoholism. He tries to befriend a stray dog, but the result simply adds to his broken state. The reader senses salvation in Ruth towards the end of the book, as the story from the point of view of the vampires unfolds - who's the monster know? The ending is gripping and surprising.

Spawning two films which strayed too much from the book, a third is planned for later this year/early next year. From the trailers it seems as though the new film is simply a leap onto the 28 Weeks Later bandwagon with a hint of `long live America' and not in the spirit of this fantastic book.

I cannot recommend this book highly enough, it is written in simple way without embellishment, and this only adds to the feeling of an ordinary, lonely man in an extraordinary and disturbing world.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully crafted sci fi/horror with psychological depth, 30 Mar 2001
I enjoyed this book so much that I read it in three nights. I came to it via the early 70s film 'The Omega Man', which I also enjoyed but the book is far more cohesive and less dated than the film (ironic considering it was written twenty years earlier). I particularly like Matheson's psychological exploration of narrator Robert Neville, whose emotional struggles with profound loneliness give this novel a human depth which is sometimes lacking in the genre. The prose is economical and briskly paced and chapters tend to end on cliffhangers making the novel difficult to put down. Neville's attempts to provide scientific explanations for the vampire plague drag the old bloodsucker myth into a convincing 20th Century context. I was so impressed by this novel that I quickly acquired other novels by Matheson, but so far this one is my favourite.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fan-uber-tastic!, 15 Mar 2004
The book is fantastic. It takes you to a place where you may have been, but wouldn't normally want to go to again. And that's the point. It strives to let you understand what it would be like, to be the only one, as you fear you are alone and then takes you back to your pain and what its like to suddenly remember the past. It doesn't stop there - it describes no future, so you never really get over it.
It's the kind of book you should read to remember even when you know you should forget. That's the point again; it makes you feel normal and that leaving the past behind is the only sensible way forward. Although, in the end, there's simply nothing you, or anyone else can do, to live in the future you have made for yourself. You know you don't belong.
There is melancholy in the character and sorrow in the past, but from getting inside the soul of the main character, Robert Neville, you seem to place yourself in his shoes; your shoes. It's a relative escape in an un-relative world.
A must for all SF fans who need to rediscover the past. If it doesn't allow you to understand it, at least it offers a way to deal with it.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cult Classic, 6 Oct 2004
It took me less than 24 hours to finish this book and I even popped out and read it in the car during my lunch break at work, so at to not be disturbed.
It really is a marvel. Written in 1954, Matheson has succeeded in creating an absolutely timeless cult classic, the elements of horror and science fiction so well melded with the characterisation and personal struggle of the hero, that the real horror doesn't come from the fact the earth's decimated by the blood sucking vampires roaming the streets, killing all, looking for fresh blood. No. The real horror is how we, as individuals, deal with those primitive fears that haunt all out darkest moments: depression, loneliness and our will to maintain equilibrium.
The thing that really got me about this book was the way the story was structured to gradually shift Neville, the hero, from being the persecuted victim, fearing the horror that once only haunted dreams and folk tales, to effectively becoming the legend in himself, afflicting the same terrors on the new dominant species: the vampire.
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I Am Legend (S.F. Masterworks)
I Am Legend (S.F. Masterworks) by Richard Matheson
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